Review: Tolerance among the Virtues

Bharat Ranganathan, University of Nebraska at Omaha

"Tolerance among the Virtues" by Bharat Ranganathan, Reading Religion is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

This is an open access review licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial NoDerivatives license


In increasingly pluralistic liberal democracies, citizens are commanded to be tolerant toward one another. Likewise, intolerance among citizens is criticized. But what exactly is tolerance? Is tolerance a personal attitude toward others whose beliefs and practices we neither wholly accept nor wholly reject? If it is a personal attitude, what does tolerance require from us, epistemologically, morally, and politically, in our interactions with one another? Or given the diverse communities in which we find ourselves, is tolerance something imposed upon us, for example, through coercive policies enforced by our shared social and political institutions? If our shared social and political institutions dictate and uphold tolerance, what’s left for us, as conscientious citizens, in our interactions with one another? Moreover, how intensive or extensive is tolerance? Should the Evangelical tolerate same-sex marriage? Should the Jain tolerate their meat-eating coworker? Should the Roman Catholic tolerate abortion? Or should the secular humanist tolerate hate speech? Questions like these continue to confront legal, moral, political, and religious thinkers, especially in the wake of the 2016 American election cycle.